The very fact that these time periods are not in the here and now allows the imagination far greater freedom to explore the kind of concepts and images that we do. Stories set in the present, with a basis in firm reality, make this more difficult to achieve. The more unreal, surreal or bizarre the setting or scenario, the more creative your imagination becomes, resulting in uniqueness and originality. Also, issues such as social politics, et al, can then be addressed in a far more lateral way and remain in the subtext without crowding the story and action. When working within genres such as SF, horror and fantasy, as a general rule, the further from reality the story, the more diverse the interpretation of the readers. We feel that this is ultimately a positive thing. We have found that settings in other realities, in the far past or distant future, or on other worlds, work best for us when dealing with pure “fantasy”
You have released several works with titles such as Gorgasm etc, what do you think of the new trend in mainstream filmmaking, and possibly mass media in general of the pornography or torture porn style of entertainment? Recent works such as Hostel etc?
For a start, it’s not exactly a “new trend”. Do not forget the Video Nasties and the Pre-Code horror comics of the 1950s, or the “Penny Dreadfuls”, the pulps of the 1930s and just as infamous, the Grand Guignol, which featured staged rapes, torture and mutilations such as eye gouging – as do films like Hostel and Saw.
There is far less censorship now than there was in the hideously politically correct 1990s. Back then; it was just too fashionable to be offended by just about anything at all. There is more freedom now, and that can only be a good thing for artists who enjoy pushing the “boundaries”.
We feel that films such as Hostel 1 & 2, Dawn of the Dead remake, Devil’s Rejects, Hills have Eyes remake, and such, are bonafide modern horror films that do not pull their punches. There are many interesting themes and good performances in these films, along with genuinely threatening and confronting images of terrifying violence. These elements make these films much more powerful than your average lightweight thriller.
One thing these films are not, and that’s pornography. While the violence and elements of sadism may well be intense, they contain no porn. Nudity, naked breasts and simulated sex does not constitute pornography. Nor do bucket-loads of SFX blood and guts. Pornographic films have real people indulging in real sex for the camera. These “new trend” horror films are not real. They are created through the use of special effects. No one is ever “really” tortured, raped, mutilated or murdered.
On the other hand, there are women who are involved in the porn industry that clearly would rather be doing something else. In effect, they are trapped. That kind of scenario is pretty depressing. This is simply not the case with films like Hostel, no matter how “offensive” the themes and imagery.
Horror is visual and visceral as well as psychological. In a thriller or suspense story it is the notion of implication and an atmosphere of fear that drives the story and characters. It is not until “that which is truly unacceptable” actually transpires and is shown rather than implied that a story can really become a “horror story”. This is what puts horror apart from other forms, such as suspense and fantasy, etc.
All good stories, horror or otherwise, have a combination of elements– a good premise, strong concepts, suspense, drama, action, interesting characters, a cohesive plot, and in some cases, even moments of impactful violence. But if you intend to do horror, then it’s a good idea to make it horrific – conceptually and visually. Matters of “taste” or theories of what does or does not constitute “porn” and “torture porn” don’t enter into it.
Splash page from Phantastique #4
Can you talk about the relaunch of Phantastique?
Yes, Phantastique has re-emerged as Fantastique. The first two issues are in circulation throughout the underground and a third one is due to be released soon. It includes The Well of Souls - scripted and pencilled by us and inked by Glenn Smith, and Ocean Born, a script of ours that has been illustrated by Tanya Nicholls (of Storm Publishing).
Fantastique is more overtly oriented towards fantasy and science fantasy, but it also contains obvious elements of horror and gore. On the other hand, Charnel House is a hard-core horror comic that is extreme and very explicit.
Ever thought of doing something with some fluffy bears and a nice little romance?
Not likely. Not our thing.
So, what’s up next?
More art, stories, experimental music and comics.
Thank you both for your time.
Thanks very much for your interest in us, and our work.
All images copyright 2012 Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Interview copyright 2012 James Andre.